With the nights drawing darker, the leaves dropping, and frustrated floundering searches for knitwear favourites we dream back to the summer with our Pirouette friends. So ignore any cold fronts, grab a warm drink, put your feet up and enjoy…
Zoe Adlersberg what did you do this Summer?
A month in Ibiza…
It all started with the idea of a swap – my neighbor asked if I’d be interested to trade homes with a friend in Ibiza. I had been trying to go to Ibiza for years, but the prices were sky high during August. I jumped at the chance, arranged the swap sight unseen. All she told me was there was a spectacular cliff with a view of a bay. I’d love it.
Months later I arrived. After meeting my host in the nearest village, I was guided 6km on a dusty dirt road, through forest and cliffs sharp drops into a valley. We arrived at the end of the world – a little house on the top of a mountain surrounded by fruit trees… in the middle of nowhere. I was alone and my daughter arrived in 2 days. My guide waved goodbye, and as I stood there alone in the dark, All I could think of was “where is the nearest hotel, and can I change our tickets home?”. It took me 24 hours to feel comfortable and 48 to feel at home. I write this on my flight home to New York after a month of being on the mountain, feeling totally at peace and conquered by the solitude and beauty of the island.
My trip was one of different periods… some of solitude, writing and reflection. Some with my daughter. Some with friends. Some shooting. My morning routine consisted of walking through the fruit trees, searching for ripe lemons, figs and persimmons. Sitting on the rocky cliff overlooking the bay and meditating. Stretching and doing yoga on the dried pine needles. Sitting for hours reading on the porch. Two kitty brothers roamed free on the land, meowing to be fed each morning. After a few days one of the tabbies befriended me and nuzzled against me as I drank my morning coffee. It was a time to do nothing. Being bored. Letting fresh ideas into my brain. No rushing. No doing.
As I leave the island – a quote from A Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey floats in my mind – something my daughter and I would say to each other at the end of every summer:
“Take a farewell look at the waves and sky. Take a farewell sniff of the salty sea. A little bit sad about the place you are leaving, a little glad about the place you are going. It is a time of quiet wonder.” Robert McCloskey
Take this less as a guide to Ibiza, and more as my experience which I’m happy to share. I didn’t explore every nook and cranny of the island, concentrating mostly on the north west and east. My leanings are towards solitude and isolation, not the bling bling party scene, mass tourism, sceney places or large gatherings. I tended to seek out remote spots. As my daughter says, “Momma likes it when there’s no one around”. I’ll be back to this magical island for sure.
- When I lived in Paris, I read a book that said Parisien culture can be understood by their buildings (think of the white stone buildings in the Marais with their imposing and often colorful doors). The buildings are closed and univinting, but once invited inside, you discover hidden gems of gardens and spectacular courtyards that are invisible from the outside. This idea feels like Ibiza beaches – never settle for the beaches that are too obvious or the spots at the entrance of the beach. Stray far, hike, walk to the end of the beach and over cliff paths. It’s usually hidden. If you spend the time to go deeper, you’ll find paradise.
- There are different scenes for everyone. Big white sand beaches with beach beds and umbrellas, hippy chic beach restaurants with poofs, beaches with shallow waves for toddlers, 1 hour hikes to secluded coves, beach bars that feel like Miami, nudist beaches where anybody from tots to veterans of Ibiza roam in the buff. Ibiza is about finding your happy place
- Bring good walking shoes – Teva sandals or others that grip stones and shifting earth. I refused to wear sneakers and have sore battered feet from my leather sandals to show for it.
- Bring a picnic. There are so many wonderful coves that if you have fruit, water and some food with you, you can last the day.
- It’s hot hot hot. I often spent the morning on my mountain top reading and doing yoga and ventured to the beaches 2p until sunset. An umbrella is key, although most beaches have structures that cast shade (fishermans houses, trees, cliffs)
- All the beaches I prefer involve sitting/lying on rocks. I might bring some sort of cushioned mat (yoga or thicker) next time I go.
Here’s a run down of some places I loved…
Aiguas Blancas – North East. Long sandy beach. Light in the morning until about 3 when the beach is cast in the shade. Park at the top and avoid the massive steep hill that I doubt even a Land Rover can handle. I saw a couple brave it on a scooter and wipe out at the bottom. Oy. If you walk to the right there is a lovely Chiringuita (beach shack) with gazpacho and juices. Walk to the far left and hike the cliff path and you’ll come to a nudist area that’s secluded and uncrowded.
On the road to Portinatx are Cala Xuclar, Cala Xarraca and Cala S’Illot de Rencli – North West. All small coves and in a strip right next to each other so you could easily see all three in a a day.
Cala Xarraca is the most touristy of the three – which just means it’s a small cove but people know about it. It’s a lovely beach but I’d advise going to the left and taking the cliff path to a more secluded area. There is a local looking restaurant with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Didn’t try it but seemed family run and yummy.
Cala Xuclar is probably the most “exclusive” of the 3. All my local friends said that was their favorite beach. It’s got a small beach shack/restaurant that’s lovely and slightly pricey – people tend to arrive at 2p, and eat slowly lingering until 5p. It has a low key, chic sort of feel. You feel you’ve found the “secret place” everyone knows about. You can also order drinks and take them to your towel. Walk the cliffs to the left for BREATHTAKING views and places to sit/dive/swim. The snorkeling was lovely here. Make sure to call for reservations at the restaurant Tel. +34 607 23 30 19
S’Illot de Renclii has a small beach with various fishing shacks that you can sit under for shade. Large red rock formations just out into the water. It has a not too fancy restaurant/cafe on the walk down – I didn’t sample it but it doesn’t look pricey. It faces west and gets a lovely sunset view as well.
Portinox is a slightly touristy town that I wouldn’t necessarily visit if it weren’t for Los Enamorados (www.losenamoradosibiza.com) and the hidden bay opposite. It’s a lovely restaurant with a hippy chic vibe. It’s gorgeous and has a spectacular view at sunset. I’d say go to the cove beaches during the day and hit Los Enamorados for a sunset glass of rose. If you feel adventurous (my 11 year old did not and fought me tooth and nail) hike up the cliff opposite the restaurant and you’ll discover a little bay and lots of cliff beaches.
Cala Boix, Mastella and Pou de LLeó. All three are close to each other on north east side of the island. We went early one morning to Cala Boix where the sand is dark grey and the morning light (and emptiness even in August) is lovely until about 11a. Then head to Pou de LLeó for a coffee or burger at the beach shack. Drive past the first parking and up to the cliffs….park at the restaurant and hike through the trees. You’ll end up on the cliffs at the mouth of the cove…less people and you can find a little cave to set up shop for the day.
Cala Mastella is also lovely and boasts a modest but famous restaurant (El Bigotes Tel +34 650 79 76 33) that is known for it’s fish stew. Note – you have to make a reservation…no walk ins, I walked in…and ate lunch only with my eyes…the owner was kind enough to direct me to the other restaurant on the beach through the back of the restaurant where I passed through a white sheet to a cliff hike. The restaurant on the cove itself serves lovely sardines and fried potatoes.
Cala Nova. North East. Not my favorite beach, but it has a couple good restaurants and a chic yet understated beach club. Its far from secluded, but its not overrun. It’s a wide bay with small waves and white sand. Aiyanna (www.aiyannaibiza.com)
is a lovely hippy chic beach club/restaraunt with an upscale but understated vibe. They have beach chairs and umbrellas so its feasible you could stay there for the day.
Les Salines. South East. A quick drive from the airport. Park as far to the left of the beach as possible – the beach itself is ok but packed in summer. We walked past all the restaurants up the hill – here is where you’ll find dozens of small coves with pools of water. Beautiful and secluded. It’s less hidden, more touristy, but it’s cool to see these little coves that differ from those in the north.
Benniras – Northwest. A wide beach known for it’s sunset and drumming night. I found it a bit too big and crowded, but I’m sure it has it’s merits. Perhaps I didn’t discover it’s nooks and crannies. It does have a lovely small market on certain nights – check online.
Punta Galera – Southwest. A recommendation from a friend, Punta Galera is a hidden treasure. It’s in the south west – so it’s a hike for those of us in the north. But if you do a tour of the south west beaches (Cala Comte, Cala D’Hort, etc.) I’d recommend ending up here in the late afternoon to watch the sunset. A huge cliff jutts into the sea and provides a stunning foreground for the sunset. No food or beds here – just concrete and stone. But truly beautiful.
Markets and towns….
It’s worth walking through Las Dalias or any large market billed as a “hippy market”. I found them very commercial with lots of hippy chic dresses and cheap bracelets. It was fun for my daughter and I’m sure kids would love it. There are lots of markets with certain days…I preferred the market in Sant Joan on Sundays – it’s not huge but has more artisan made items.
Santa Gertrudis is a lovely town where it feels like there is an understated, cool, chic vibe going on. New York’s Il Buco just opened there and it’s a host to lots of cool restaurants and shops. Located around a main pedestrian square, it’s a great place to have a meal and let the kiddos run around. Bar Costa is known for it’s Iberico ham and great vibe. Browse the stores – there is a large range of prices and styles. Also nearby (short drive) is a lovely store called The Elephant – an eclectic mix of fashion, things for the house, jewelry, etc. It was the one place I found something to buy that I didn’t find “too Ibiza”. Lots of textiles from India, mexico, etc.
I also loved our town – Sant Joan de Labritja – it’s tiny but has lots of charm. We have one of the only fish stores on the island (most go to the supermarket or Ibiza food markets) – Pescaderia San Juan. A lovely and chic cafe is Giri Cafe with a gorgeous back garden (www.cafe.thegiri.com).
Holidays are not always play….